I spent this weekend in Stuttgart visiting my fellow Fulbright student Jamesa (who has formerly appeared on this blog in Munich and Vienna, though we also met up in Marburg and Berlin). We had grand plans, mostly involving the Ritter Sport factory and outlet. Chocolate is always a priority.
I showed up late Friday evening—too late to do anything in the city, and late enough that Pesach had ended! Jamesa is a master chef, and she seems to have anticipated my wish for the most chametz-filled meal possible: we made pizza and cake from scratch. Both were delicious. I haven’t been cooking enough this year.
Saturday was devoted to our big adventure: Ritter Sport! (For those who don’t know, Ritter Sport is a German chocolate brand that comes in distinctive, colorful, square packages. Their motto, which must be a send-up of stereotypes about Germans, is, “Square. Practical. Good.”) We took a bus to Waldenbuch. There, the Ritter Sport factory has a “chocolate exhibition” describing the chocolate-making process and the history of the company. They also have a cafe, an art museum, and an outlet store. We visited all of those. I was a tad disappointed that we couldn’t watch the chocolate being made live (or, better yet, make some ourselves), but it was still fun. We ate banana-and-Ritter-Sport-chocolate pancakes in the cafe. We saw the predictably gemoetrically themed art exhibition and had fun arguing about which things on the walls we considered art. (At some point, monochrome paintings of squares are just monochrome paitings of squares, no matter how famous and revolutionary the artist supposedly was!) We bought many kilos of chocolate at discount prices. Much of that was “Bruch” chocolate that didn’t quite meet quality control (and therefore was being sold cheaply) and “Test” chocolate (flavors that were tried out but never manufactured on a large scale). I shouldn’t need to buy more sweets for several months, now!
Sunday was our day in Stuttgart proper. We began with the Mercedes-Benz museum. Now, you wouldn’t usually find me at car museums, but several people assured me that this one was different. They were right. You begin on the eighth floor, and as you walk in spirals down to the ground floor, you’re presented with the cultural and political history of Germany (and, to some extent, the West in general). Of course, there’s a focus on technology, and there are lots of gorgeous old cars on display. But it’s about a lot more than just the cars. I thought it struck the perfect balance.
Fortunately, the weather was warm and sunny, so we were able to spend the afternoon at Killesberg Park. It’s a huge park just outside the city with everything: a miniature railway, a panoramic tower, carnival rides, flowers, lakes with flamingos, petting zoos, ice cream bars, restaurants, a swimming pool, and probably a lot more that we didn’t see. All of the flowers were in bloom, and it was gorgeous!
We didn’t have much time between the park and our opera (an utterly bizarre Der Rosenkavalier—I’ll devote a post to that soon), but we took a quick look around Schlossplatz. It’s where most of Stuttgart’s prettiest and oldest buildings seem to be, anyway.
By the end of the opera, we were ready to collapse. Not for long, though—I caught an early-morning bus back to Munich today. I would have loved to spend another day or two in Stuttgart, but both Jamesa and I had work to do. My consolation is that my trip to Belgium and Holland is coming up very soon!